My first garden attempt was destroyed by the tornado last month. The plants were crushed, ripped and in some cases, vanished without a trace. The pots that held them were completely shattered. As gardens go, it was an utter failure.
I started over with garden attempt number two. This time, I scavenged old flowerpots and window box containers. I used fancy new dirt only in the top half of the pots and old, nutrient-less dirt in the bottom half of the pots. Instead of starting with seeds, I grabbed whatever tiny vegetable plants the little hardware store on the corner had left. I started garden number two with zero confidence that this attempt wouldn’t be as big of a disaster as the first attempt.
I allowed myself to get excited when tiny blooms appeared on the plants. I took a picture to remember the moment and the second I zoomed in, I saw the teeny translucent aphids nibbling on my vegetable plants. After pouting for a solid fifteen minutes, I clicked a few buttons on the computer at The Tree Center and bought bugs. I spent money on bugs. Bugs.
After my impulse purchase of 1500 ladybugs, I waited to see if a special courier would deliver my purchase of live creatures. Yes, they’re just bugs, but they are still living things. Well, I hoped they would arrive alive. It would be very sad to get a test tube filled with dead bugs. A test tube might be too small for 1500 bugs living OR dead. Maybe a barrel of bugs would arrive. I probably should have done some research before this purchase.
Two weeks later, i came home from carpool to see a box that would have been too small for a snow globe sitting on my doorstep. It looked like someone punched holes in it with a screwdriver. Not a sonic screwdriver, but whatever sharp tool they had nearby. I opened the box and pulled out a clear tub about the size of a small cottage cheese. Inside, the walls were covered with tiny ladybugs, desperately searching for an escape route. Every child in the cove studied the container and made useful comments, like “gross” and “squish them.”
I fumbled with the lid forever, before I finally peeled it off and the bugs rained down on my tomato plant. The children screamed and laughed. I carefully poured bugs on each plant until all that remained were the frightened bugs who refused to let go of their spot on the tub wall. The container was shaken, thumped and smacked on the soil until all of the bugs were free. The children captured bugs trying to fly to safety, coaxed other bugs on their hands and did a lot of playing with the creatures that they found horrifying in a completely sealed tub.
I stared at the bugs to see if they would immediately start eating the aphids. The bugs seemed more interested in running laps around the flower pots rims. I realized that the children’s voices were traveling away from me and looked up to see half a dozen small people walking like Frankenstein, their arms stretched in front of them, toward the center of our cove. As the realization that their arms were covered in ladybugs slowly dawned upon me, I started to call them back to my plants. Before I could get out the words, the aliens controlling the childrens’ brains had the children spin… and laugh loudly as several hundred ladybugs flew or were propelled off the small whirling dervishes. The ladybugs sought safety far, far away from the spinning children and my sad vegetables.
I think I need more ladybugs.